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After the initial shock passed, Marcy found herself not feeling anything at all. Not calm, not relief but an unnerving emptiness down in her stomach. 


Then, it all came crashing down at her.






Thousands of minds flooding into her own. Or was it hers that was being squished into an unbelievably tight space? She didn’t know and The Core would not give her even a moment to think about it.


The phenomenon of a rat king pushed itself in front of her other thoughts. She’s never been into European folklore but the image of these poor creatures was engraved deeply in her memory. Rats with their tails mangled. Rats with their snouts ruined and starved. Rats that were forced to live and die together, bound by cruel mother nature.




They clawed, scratched, gnawed at her bones. A cacophony of high pitched screams piercing through what she’d assume to be her skull if she still had a body. Small, afraid animals that now wanted to drag her into this too, for she was just like them. After all, she also forfeited her earthly relationships to pursue the never-ending flow of knowledge. Selfishness running through her veins that only powered her obsession with understanding, which in turn pushed everybody away from her.


She wanted it, didn’t she? Didn’t you? To understand the endless, to be a god. When she decided to play with powers she didn’t understand, it became more than simple curiosity.


Rats. Rats. Rats.


They flooded her mind with information, new, old, some of it made sense, some of it was so deranged she didn’t even want for it to make any. She tasted colors and saw sounds she couldn’t dream of before. Voices, so many voices speaking in unison and over each at the same time. It left her feeling numb and dumbfounded. It felt as if she was stuck in a stuffy, crowded room with one creature on top of another, constantly trying to get on top of the pile.


Like a rat.


She then realized that a part of her was participating in the exchange. Yelling over others, pushing through them, throwing all that she knew into the crowd in something akin to a word-vomit. Feeding the core, giving the monster of multiple faces exactly what it wanted. She craved it though, to teach and to learn, to be listened to and to listen. It was primal, chaotic and if Marcy didn’t have the outside context, she would not believe she was rubbing elbows with some of the greatest minds the universe has birthed.


The Core molded them together into something different than “human”, something much better. They were something so grotesque, yet so beautiful that you couldn’t help but want, crave , to be a part of it. They were both stupid and smart. They knew everything yet nothing. It was all that they wanted, it was all that they needed. With all of the barriers of self-control gone, Marcy could finally let herself be free. The warmth she always chased after was right there in the form of furry bodies and small claws puncturing her skin. The Core understood her, the rats understood her. All that she wanted was right there, if she would just take it, all that The Core needed in exchange was to sell out her friends. Just spill their weaknesses, let The Core use her body. She was so close to having it all.


She wondered what Anne would say. Sasha had a colorful array of vulgarisms up her sleeve to describe the situation, she’d probably try to fight it, fight her. Why would she? Marcy was happy here, she had all that she needed, didn’t you? The constant overload of sensations and the sticky crowd of others felt good. Would it be revolting to them? They’ve seen her selfishness once before, what if they saw the actual extent of it? Would they still love her? Would they deny this form of her, would Anne say that this isn’t the Marcy she knew, would Sasha try to avoid her many eyes? They’d curse her out, kill her, separate her from The Core where she truly belonged. They’d hate her, renounce her as their friend.


Marcy found the thought strangely alluring. Was it her or the rats who wanted to be hated?


No, there wasn’t a distinction anymore, for she was one of them.